New pool but what, where and when?

Wanaka Swim Club president Richard Fairbairn speaks at yesterday's Queenstown Lakes District Council meeting. Photo by Mark Price.
Wanaka Swim Club president Richard Fairbairn speaks at yesterday's Queenstown Lakes District Council meeting. Photo by Mark Price.
Wanaka residents are in for another round of consultation over what sort of swimming pool they want.

More than two and-a-half hours of yesterday's meeting in Wanaka of the Queenstown Lakes District Council was taken up with pool matters.

The debate pushed into the background the significant step the council took towards the building of a $13 million sports facility in the Three Parks subdivision.

Councillors voted unanimously to have detailed design work on stage one of the facility done in readiness for a building contract to go out to tender.

The new facility will have two indoor courts, change rooms, storage and outdoor artificial courts. But it will not have a swimming pool; at least, not yet.

General manager operations Ruth Stokes had put up a recommendation to the council that a $9.7 million, 25m six-lane lap pool and a learn-to-swim pool be added to the sports facility in 2020-21.

Several speakers in the public forum that opened the meeting were unhappy at waiting so long for a new pool and called for it to be built at the same time as the sports facility.

Ms Stokes responded that Wanaka was a small community and the amount of money involved was substantial.

She stood by the 2020-21 date as the ''sensible thing to do'' and ''the most pragmatic approach''.

After considerable debate, deputy mayor Lyal Cocks moved the council prepare documents for a ''special consultative procedure with all residents within the Wanaka ward'' over a proposal to build a lap and learners' pool as part of stage one of the sports facility.

The community pool was closed last month because the building it is housed in does not meet earthquake standards.

The council has already voted to spend $115,000 upgrading the building as a short-term measure.

All those from the swimming fraternity who spoke at yesterday's meeting pointed out the town desperately needed pool facilities. But many were unconvinced a new pool should be built at Three Parks.

Maurice Duckmanton, who received an MBE for services to swimming in the 1980s, was concerned Three Parks was ''out in the country'', which would make it less accessible for the town's 1400 schoolchildren.

''You are talking about a six-lane pool in six years' time.

''It should be eight lanes and I do not want to see the pool out in the country, for the sake of the 1400.''

Quentin Smith, founder of the Wanaka Sport and Recreation Action Group, believed the town would grow around the pool, but described the delayed building of a new pool as ''a slap in the face'' for Wanaka.

He believed the council would not save money by deferring it, and he called on the council to sell property assets it held in Wanaka to help pay for it.

Duncan Good, chairman of the sports facility steering group said the group had already consulted the public and found ''overwhelming'' support for a learners pool in the town.

Delaying the pool in the Three Parks sports facility ''goes against that sentiment'', he said.

He estimated building both stage one of the sports facility and a new pool would cost ratepayers an average of about $130 per year.

Wanaka Swim Club member Eddie Spearing did not agree with the pool being built at Three Parks but believed the most important point was to build an eight-lane pool to cater for the growing population.

''A new pool in six years' time with only six lanes is frankly crazy.''

Club president Richard Fairburn said even before the earthquake problems with the existing pool, the club had been turning away children who wanted to learn to swim because of a lack of space.

''It's an absolute disgrace that we have to do that.''

He still believed Kelly's Flat was the best location for a pool because of its proximity to schools but a delay in building a pool would ''absolutely stop kids ...

learning to swim''.

Wanaka Community Board chairwoman Rachel Brown supported more consultation, particularly because of the likely effect on rates, and suggested council assets be sold and a committee be formed to look at fundraising ideas.

The council has requested staff aim to have a pool proposal completed for its meeting on October 30.

mark.price@odt.co.nz